Marion’s Intangible Heritage: Interview #4 with Jill

Intangible Heritage Workshop, 4th Conversation: Jill Burfield

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My final conversation for the day was with Jill Burfield. Although Jill had not lived in Marion Council, she recalled Marion and attitudes of earlier times.

Jill’s mother gave birth to her in a private hospital in Rose Park in 1934 at the age of 30, which was considered ‘old’ to have kids. In 1939, Jill’s younger sister was born. Her mother wasn’t feeling well and went into Memorial Hospital to give birth. At one point, she felt herself slipping and pressed the button for assistance. The nurse’s response? A drink of brandy.

Above: Jill gives a lively explanation of what community meant in the mid-20th century

As you couldn’t just go buy scones or cakes, Jill’s mother used to make them and have her friends around to fill time as a home mum. Exchange systems were common among members of the community- ‘if you had some almonds, you would give some to your friends and they might give you some plums’, Jill explained.

Women weren’t expected to work; it was all about when you were going have children. Jill was, and is, a strong feminist. She finished year 11 and went into the work force as a teacher, when ‘everyone was expected to get married and have children’. In those days, education for women was superfluous to their roles as home makers and mothers.

Above: Jill passionately discusses being a feminist in more gendered times

Jill painted a mental picture of a past with strictly gendered expectations. Women and men were born into specific social roles and were expected to maintain those roles throughout their lives. Despite this, it was also a time where people would share what they had with one another. Thanks, Jill.

Nessa Beasley

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